Santon Bridge, Holmrook, Cumbria

The Old Post Office Campsite at Santon Bridge, Holmrook in the Lake District was the destination for our most recent Jolly adventure.  It’s a privately run riverside site comprising both hard standing and grass pitches with the usual facilities.  We used our onboard facilities though.  Some of the pitches overlook the River Irt and we were lucky enough to be allocated one of these, a hard standing with EHU.

Couldn’t fault the location – riverside, countryside and just a short stroll over the bridge to the Bridge Inn pub which serves great food.   We ate here on both nights.

Many people visit this area to climb Scaffell Pike and enjoy the various other walks the area has to offer.   The scenery is truly spectacular in this less touristy western lakes area.

On the Saturday we jumped on our bikes to cycle the undulating country road that runs alongside the shores of Wastwater towards Wasdale Head.  This area has a number of  claims to fame as the home of England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike), deepest lake (Wastwater), smallest church (St Olaf’s) and the biggest liar 🤥.

This was the route we took.  If you look closely you can see I’ve placed faint red bike symbols along the yellow route.  Sorry if it isn’t particularly good, but what do you expect for free?! 🤓😉.

Map of our cycle route

The weather during our stay was fabulously hot and sunny 😎, in fact possibly the best weather we’ve experienced in the Lakes.  We had an active day, but made plenty of time to stop and take in the beauty of the area.   At one point we were sitting on a steep, rocky mound overlooking the lake when we both caught a glimpse out of the corner of our eyes of a cycle helmet rolling and bouncing down the banking … then into the lake  *splash* 💦😳.   Bri enjoyed the feeling of the wind flowing through his locks for the rest of the day.

As you can imagine in such stunning surroundings, there were a lot of photographs to be taken so I’ll stick ‘em in a slide show:-

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We had a well earned pit stop sitting out at the Wasdale Head Inn before our return journey by the same route, with a slight detour into Nether Wasdale.

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Wow, what a weekend made all the more perfect by the weather.  We couldn’t have hoped to see Wasdale in better conditions.  After our little detour on the way home we cycled back to The Bridge Inn next door to camp for some tea before returning to site to relax.

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The next morning was more overcast though still warm as we packed up for home, taking an unintentional route over some fell or other, we know not which (Birker Fell?).  Anyhow, we were pleased to descend back down into Broughton-in-Furness to pick up the ‘A’ roads again.

Blimey, more great memories.  Our next adventure will be our annual Jolly June Jaunt.  Bring it on!

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Ainsdale & Formby, Nr Southport, Merseyside

Ow do!

We recently visited Willowbank Touring Park in Ainsdale. It’s about 3 miles outside Southport, next door to Formby, and only about an hour further down the coast from where we live so we spent very little time on the road.  It was a rainy day on our arrival but the sun soon appeared.

 

The pitches and facilities at Willowbank are excellent. No choosing your own pitch here though.  As soon as you arrive you’re taken to a pre-allocated pitch. It’s no biggie but it’s always nicer to have the freedom to choose your own. The main road outside the site driveway can get very busy but there’s a path and cycle way running alongside for safe cycling/walking. We could hear quite a bit of traffic noise late into Friday night. This didn’t bother us though, and we found the site to be lovely and ideally situated for our stay. We would happily stay there again.

 

 

For this break we used our bikes to explore the area. The first day we cycled down to Ainsdale beach and through Ainsdale village. It was a very damp and grey day, but this made for some quite atmospheric beach photographs.

 

After a beach wander and cycle around Ainsdale (calling in at a cosy, quaint venue called The Tipple Bar), we cycled to The Sparrowhawk where we enjoyed a cracking evening meal to round off the day. It’s just half a mile from the campsite and a must for a meal if you’re in the area.

 

Next morning after a good sleep, lie-in and a bit of brekkie we headed back out on our bikes to Formby, following much of the Asparagus Cycle Trail which takes in the Formby Red Squirrel Reserve.  This was our main reason for this Jolly trip so we were a bit excited!

It was our first time seeing red squirrels and we saw plenty, which it turns out was quite lucky as we’ve spoken to some people who saw none when they visited.  There was quite a lot of activity when we were there and some of them came up quite close for a photograph. They’re smaller than expected in comparison to the greys, and it was a really special experience seeing them thriving in good numbers.

Here are some photos of our red squirrel experience visit and our day out n about on the bikes (so much better than me wittering on):-

The elusive red 🐿

Gorgeous 🐿

Lovely 🐿 shot

Close-up

Inquisitive 🐿

A Jay bird

 

Afterwards we cycled back to site and cooked tea on Jolly, spending a chilled evening before heading home about midday the next day.

Our next Jolly jaunt will be probably somewhere up Cumbria way.

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri

Welltrough Hall Farm, Lower Withington, Cheshire

Last weekend we visited what we found to be a top rate CL site.  It was at Welltrough Hall Farm in Lower Withington, Cheshire.

This is an adults-only site which began as a 5-pitch C&MC Certified Location and has been extended to provide more pitches, all fully serviced and refreshingly spacious with hardstanding and a grassy area.  Some have wooden boundaries.  There are also grass pitches and a camping pod.

The original 5 pitches have the most impressive views across open countryside, although all have open views.   However, we found a cosy corner pitch (no 13) which was located by a small pond and trees.  It provided plenty of quiet and privacy.  Although most pitches are level, pitches 10-13 definitely need levelling blocks.  We were at the top of our ramps and still slightly sloping although this was no issue to us.

Facilities provided:- elsan chemical toilet disposal point, 2 portaloo-style toilets, showers (and one for doggies), washer/dryer, information hut, a farm walk and also a well signed walk through 2 fields to the local Red Lion Pub in the village of Lower Withington, about half a mile away.

We visited the Red Lion on our first evening for a chilled couple of drinks & game of cards in the bar area before moving into the dining area to eat later.  It was lovely food.  Would definitely recommend 😊

On site, our pitch provided a clear view of the impressive local landmark that is the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank.  This is just 2.7 miles from site.

Lovell Telescope in distance

We visited Jodrell Bank the next day while out and about exploring the area on our bikes.  We spent a pleasant 1-2 hours there which was plenty of time for what we wanted to see.  It was a perfect winter’s day with sunshine but VERY cold.  It was pleasant walking around outside and seeing the Lovell Telescope up close.  We also caught a film (on continuous play) in the film pod indoors.  This gave an interesting, detailed insight into the history and current role of the telescope in space research. There are several other interactive and informative displays inside and a couple of cafes.  It’s definitely a worthwhile visit if in the area.

Tickets were £8 per adult (£7.30 without gift aid) but we saved 10% booking online in advance.  It’s also worth noting there’s work ongoing on the car park at present.  This didn’t affect us being on bikes but car parking spaces were reduced.

Other villages we cycled through during our day out included the old farming village of Goostrey, Twemlow Green and Swettenham.  We had planned on calling into The Yellow Broom for refreshments but it was closed when we arrived so we headed another 3 miles or so through Kermincham and into Swettenham.  It was worth the often-uphill effort because we found a fine country inn, purportedly haunted, called The Swettenham Arms.   It’s easy to cycle past as it’s tucked away to the rear of St Peter’s Church.

After re-fuelling with well-earned fodder, we headed back by just the lights on our bikes to site.

A great day and top weekend.   Roll on the next one!

Chatty Chappy

A chatty blue tit chirped “Cheerio!” as we left

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Chirk, North Wales

Last weekend Jolly took us to Chirk, a small town in North Wales between Wrexham and Oswestry.

We stayed at Lady Margaret’s C&M Club Site which is beautifully situated in woodland.  The site offers good sized pitches to suit all preferences, be it the shade and privacy of trees or open grassy areas.  We loved this site and the location, it’s pretty with a sense of space, and the sun shone too which always shows a place at its best.  We had noted some comments on the site reviews about facilities needing upgrading but we can’t comment on the showers because we used Jolly’s onboard shower as we always do. However, we used the toilets which were fine and spotlessly clean.

The wardens were very welcoming, smiling, chatty and laid back despite always being busy with a steady flow of arrivals and departures.

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The site is located beside Chirk Castle, a grade I listed 13th Century fortress built during the reign of Edward I.  It was sold to the Myddelton family at the end of the 16th Century and descendants of this family still live in part of the Castle today.  You can just lose yourself wandering through the grounds, admiring the ornamental statues, or join a guided tour of the state rooms, and visit the tea room and shop.

There’s a striking entrance to the Castle in the form of intricate ornate white wrought iron gates, bearing the Myddelton Coat of Arms.  Dated 1719, they’re the work of local brothers, Robert & John Davies.  We stopped a while at these gates to admire the intricate detail of the work on them.

Ornate gates at Chirk Castle

The gates bear the ‘Red hand of Chirk’.  A tale of how this symbol came about relates to a Lord Myddelton issuing a challenge to his twin sons as he lay on his death bed.  Chirk Castle was to be passed to his eldest child but he was unsure which son had been born first.  The sons had to race on horseback around the estate, the winner being the one who returned first to touch his father’s deathbed, thereby inheriting the estate.

Legend has it that as the feuding sons returned neck-and-neck running towards the chamber, one of the sons tripped.  Fearing he would lose the race and the inheritance, he drew his sword, sliced off his own hand and threw the bloody thing(!) onto his father’s bed thereby claiming his right to the inheritance.

Lucky that he had his sword ‘handy’ wasn’t it …

We noticed this symbol in places throughout Chirk as we wandered around the town on our first afternoon.  It’s about a half hour walk from site but we rode our bikes down.  We ate later on at a café/restaurant on the main street, called ‘The Castle Bistro’.  It’s a delightful, cosy bistro with a friendly atmosphere. We enjoyed some very tasty, well presented food washed down with a cheeky bottle of rosé wine.  Mmmm.

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The Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal runs through Chirk and we got out on the bikes the next day to enjoy a scenic bike ride and a little photography along the canal towpath from Chirk Railway Station, over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and into Trevor Basin (NCN route 84) where there’s a Visitor Centre.

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The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the tallest aqueduct in the world, with its 18 arches it stands at 38 metres (126 feet high) and was built between 1795-1805.  It’s recognised as being the first great masterpiece of Civil Engineer, Thomas Telford.  We walked our bikes across as you can’t cycle it, and the pathway is quite narrow with just enough room for people to pass by.  It’s quite an experience to cross it, especially if you aren’t too keen on heights.  You can take a narrow-boat ride across if you prefer.

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We stopped for a wander around Trevor Basin, and ate lunch at the Telford Inn there.  This building was initially called Scotch House, and the name is still visible in the glass above the doorway.  The house was used by the Supervisor of the construction of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and sometimes by Thomas Telford too.  The building was converted into a pub from a private dwelling in 1981.  We had a lunch snack here and a nice pint of Telford Tipple outside in the beer garden overlooking the canal.

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Afterwards we took NCN route 85 along the canal towpath into Llangollen, stopping off briefly for a swift one at The Sun, Trevor .  When we arrived in Llangollen we noticed it was very popular with visitors and no shortage of shops, pubs and restaurants.  It’s definitely somewhere to return to on a future Jolly adventure.  As it was, we had only called in to check it out and didn’t have a great deal of time to explore it much.

We cycled over Llangollen bridge to grab a pint at the Corn Mill an old mill turned modern bar/restaurant which has still managed to maintain a lot of its original features including the water wheel that turns behind the bar.  From the outside decking area, we watched the white waters of the River Dee and were lucky to see a steam engine departing from the station across the water.

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We then re-joined the canal towpath for our return ride back to Chirk.  In all, throughout the day, we probably cycled a leisurely 19-20 miles and had cycled up an appetite so we decided on tea at the Chirk Tandoori in town.  Not before Bri got pooped on by a bird outside the Hand Hotel though *snigger* 😮

Even early evening the Chirk Tandoori was full and clearly a popular place with locals.  The food and service was great and it was like travelling back in time as Indian restaurants go – we even got a carnation on leaving!  Lovely.

With that, another Jolly jaunt came to a close and the following morning the journey home flowed nicely, no hold-ups.  Next adventure will probably be Cumbria way.

In the meantime, I need to get to the gym after all that lovely fodder and before the next adventure! 😊

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Braunton & Saunton, North Devon

So our 2017 summer has begun with a 9-night adventure to North Devon, beginning in the village of Braunton which is situated at the centre of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, about 5 miles outside the main town of Barnstaple.  It’s the most populated village in Devon, and did actually feel a little more towny than a village with no shortage of varied eating places, drinking holes and shops – if you’re a surfer this definitely seems to be the place to go (we’re not by the way!).

http://www.visitbraunton.co.uk/

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We stayed for 3 nights at Lobb Fields Camping & Caravan Park,  chosen due to its location between Braunton village and Saunton Sands.   This allowed us to explore the local area well on bike.

This site’s spread across 2 fields comprising 180 pitches, 107 of them have EHU and 10 are hardstanding.  Many are sloping.  There are also some seasonal pitches. There are 2 chemical disposal points and 2 re-cycling areas and facilities were good.

Both fields are open and exposed, giving it a very spacious feel. The night before we arrived the site had been battered with strong winds and our neighbour beside us had had his awning destroyed 😮  It remained quite windy there during our stay, but then it is on the coast of the Atlantic, so …

http://www.lobbfields.com/

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During our stay here we ate in the village at:-

http://www.theriversidebraunton.co.uk/

– a friendly, family owned place serving great food.  A cafe by day and contemporary restaurant by night.  We enjoyed excellent seafood dishes including sea bass, pollock, and scallops.

http://www.squiresfishrestaurant.co.uk/

– a long-standing fish n chip shop/restaurant recommended by Rick Stein.  We both loved the fish curry here.

The day after arrival we set out on our bikes, cycling the couple of miles from site to the Northern end of Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows dune system – England’s largest sand dune system.  There’s a car park, shop and cafe at this end. The weather began as overcast but soon enough some welcome sunshine broke through the fast moving clouds and stayed with us for the remainder of the day.

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Saunton Sands is a stunning 3-mile crescent of sand and is dog friendly.  Apparently, Robbie Williams filmed the video for his single ‘Angels’ on this beach.  The wild Atlantic waves attract many surfers, windsurfers, and kite surfers and it’s great to just sit and watch from the beach.

We stayed a while just wandering along the beach before cycling (sometimes walking and pushing!) on from Saunton past the Saunton Sands Hotels where we took in more impressive views right out to sea on one side and back across the dunes and burrows on the other.  From there we climbed up the hill and down into Croyde.  Don’t forget to look back as you go up, some of the views are breathtaking.  Be careful though because there’s a fair bit of traffic at times along this road.

When you reach the top of the hill and turn the bend you’re rewarded with magnificent views down towards Croyde Bay and the picturesque village of Croyde, with its numerous thatched cottages.   It’s a pleasant downhill cycle here.  We’d definitely recommend visiting Croyde if in the area.

http://www.croydedevon.co.uk/

We had a pitstop pint (or two 😉 ) at the characterful Thatch Inn and enjoyed some sunshine for an hour or so.

http://www.thethatchcroyde.com/

We then just HAD to call into Croyde’s Ice Cream Parlour further down the road.  We wouldn’t necessarily have stopped for ice cream had there not been a sign on the shop stating “This is the famous shop that serves ice cream with clotted cream on top” … eek! well, we’re only human!

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Later, from Croyde, we cycled through nearby Georgeham village as part of our 12-mile circular route back to site at the end of the day, stopping off at a gem of a pub:-

http://kingsarmsgeorgeham.co.uk/

This place felt cosy and welcoming the minute we walked through the door and fortunately we decided to ask for a table just in time as it proved to be a popular choice. A big thumbs up for this place.

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Another uphill and downhill cycle ride along quiet roads and lanes helped us burn off some calories and took us back to site just before sunset at the end of a very enjoyable first day in North Devon.

Also during our stay we took the bus to the seaside resort of Woolacombe with its award-winning beach, lying between Morte Point and Baggy Point.  You drop steeply down into Woolacombe which was once a small fishing hamlet before becoming popular as a seaside resort in the 19th century.

http://www.woolacombetourism.co.uk/

The bus runs regularly from outside the George Hotel in Braunton and passes through Morthoe, a village mentioned in the Domesday Book.  It’s worth a saunter around this village too which has an interesting history, more recently in farming but further back in time it was a place used by smugglers and wreckers.

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Although we cycled and made use of public transport to explore the local area, there are a variety of walks to be had around this part of North Devon.

https://www.croydeunison.co.uk/great-walks-near-croyde/

There’s also a 6-mile stretch of the Tarka Trail passing between Braunton and Barnstaple, the largest town in North Devon, or parts of the South West Coast Path.

https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/

Well, part 1 of our 3-part North Devon adventure had come to a close and hadn’t disappointed.  Our next stop was to be just a half hour drive north along the coast to Watermouth Cove Holiday Park, Berrynarbor, just outside Ilfracombe.

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Haltwhistle, Northumberland

Recently back from an enjoyable weekend at Haltwhistle.  Our first time at the Camping & Caravanning Club Site there, which is situated by the River South Tyne.

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/northumberland/haltwhistle/haltwhistle

Our pitch was beside the pathway down to the river which, along with birdsong, was pretty much the only sound we heard on site.  We believe this pretty little site to be the quietest we’ve stayed at so far.  Bliss.

Haltwhistle is a small town in the North East of England just over the border from Carlisle, lying in Northumberland.  It is described as the geographical centre of Britain (although the village of Dunsop Bridge in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire is also often cited as the centre of Britain).

http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/haltwhistle

It is a couple of miles into Haltwhistle from the site and we cycled down the old railway track which can be accessed not far from the entrance road to site.  It’s a tarmac pathway with a gradual decline going and, obviously, more pedaling required coming back.  It follows part of the old 13-mile railway route from Haltwhistle to Alston (the highest market town in England).  The line was opened in 1852  to transport minerals from Alston Moor, and it closed in 1976.  By 1983, there was a narrow gauge railway operating along a small section of the line with plans to possibly extend this at some point.

The disused section from the campsite now forms part of the 26-mile South Tyne Trail (for both cyclists and walkers) which runs from Tyne Head to Haltwhistle.  It takes in the restored Lambley Viaduct, built to cross the South Tyne River.

http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinksWalks/south-tyne-trail-walking-and-cycle-route

Haltwhistle is rich in Roman history and approx. 2 miles away is the central section of Hadrian’s Wall, which is the location of the best preserved section of the wall.  For around 300 years, Hadrian’s Wall was a frontier sprawling 73 miles coast to coast from Wallsend in the East to Solway Firth in the West.  It was built by approx. 15,000 soldiers on the instruction of Emperor Hadrian in 117 AD to protect the roman empire against barbarians, and was finished in under 6 years.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall/

About 5.5 miles from Haltwhistle is the Vindolanda Roman Fort and Settlement with museum.

www.vindolanda.com/

It’s one of the North East’s most famous tourist attractions, particularly noted for the Vindolanda Tablets – considered some of the most important archaeological finds of correspondence (written on wooden tablets) discovered anywhere in the Roman Empire.  Speaks for itself that this is worth a read-up on and a visit.

We had great September weather during this trip and spent a lot of time cycling through the beautiful countryside.

For food and a good pint, Bri had researched The Black Bull Inn, in the centre of town.  It receives excellent reviews and we had planned on trying here, but by this time our travels had taken us away from town.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g616269-d1544997-Reviews-The_Black_Bull-Haltwhistle_Northumberland_England.html

At the end of our full day there, after covering several miles, we finished off along the South Tyne Trail, a little further on from site to call in at the Wallace Arms, Featherstone.

https://whatpub.com/pubs/TYN/6852/wallace-arms-featherstone

We arrived there half an hour before opening time, but the landlord saw us and opened up early to pull us thirsty cyclists a couple of pints 🍻  Nice one Mr Landlord!  👍  We had planned to eat our evening meal there but discovered that they don’t serve food.

Instead we sat outside and enjoyed the last of the day’s sunshine, a couple of real ales from a local brewery, and chatted at length with one of the new occupants of this now family run pub.  There were lots of lazy, grumpy wasps around as there are at this time of year, which we both spent a while dodging … until Suzie eventually jumped up dancing around, shaking her t-shirt to get rid of a wasp that had got inside and stung her armpit!  😖  Another pint eased the pain though 😃

On arrival back at site we ordered fish and chips from a takeaway in Haltwhistle that provided delivery.  The info and menu for this is in the site information file.  Good fodder before turning in for the night and our journey home the following morning.  A thumbs up for Haltwhistle.

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September sunset

Our next Jolly jaunt is back to Uttoxeter Racecourse where we went last year for the Marston’s Beer Festival.  This year we’re returning for the Oktoberfest weekend in … err … October funnily enough.  Roll on October!

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Home time

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Meathop Fell, Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria

Whoop!  Our first Jolly jaunt for a few months.  A few months that we are very happy and relieved to put behind us, but enough about that.

This site has been on our ‘To Do’ list for a while now, and we finally got to spend a short but lovely two-night stay at the Meathop Fell Caravan Club Site in the South Lakes, approximately 2-3 miles from the seaside town of Grange-Over-Sands.

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Meathop Fell Caravan Club Site

The site staff were friendly and helpful and seemed keen for visitors to get the most from their stay.  We were informed of the direction to head for eateries, villages and the town of Grange-Over-Sands.  The site information hut is well stocked with leaflets, etc too.

This is such a relaxed site, where you can really appreciate the feeling of privacy, as pitches are a good size and many are separated by grassy areas or shrubs.  The site appeared almost full when we arrived but we found a perfectly spacious and sheltered corner pitch (No.75).  It was near to the play area but this was extremely quiet at this time of the season.  It’s a real haven for wildlife in and around the site and a treat to listen to the owls at night.

http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclubapps/applications/uk-caravan-sites-and-parks/SiteDetails.aspx?csid=21935

We arrived on site just after lunch time and, after pitching up, heated up some homemade chilli which we enjoyed with homemade jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffins.  This was washed down with a chilled glass of Doombar.  Yum!

We spent a few hours just unwinding and enjoying the peace, quiet and beautiful surroundings on site.  The rain set in late afternoon so we got togged up and went out for a walk up to the Woodlands Hotel, just a 5-10 minute stroll away.  There’s a signpost at the site entrance (left out of the gates, then right at the pine lodges).  It’s a country house hotel which welcomes visitors from the campsite (dog friendly too), and where you can get decent pub style food and a good pint of Wainwrights.

http://www.lakedistrict-stay.co.uk/accommodation/Woodlands-Hotel.html

The heavens opened that night and a lot of rain was put down before we awoke to a fresh day.  The weather improved considerably from then on.  We fired up the cooker and enjoyed a cumberland chipolata sandwich before jumping on our bikes to explore the local area.

We decided to cycle to Grange-Over-Sands which was a pretty, scenic route from site, avoiding the busy A590 road.

We cycled along part of the promenade and could see in the distance a large group of Morecambe Bay Walkers.  There are about 30 walks a year across Morecambe Bay.  They take place during spring and summer. Most walks are undertaken by charity fundraisers, and cross the sands between Arnside and Kents Bank.  The walks are guided by Cedric Robinson MBE, the Queen’s Official Guide. In 1963 Cedric Robinson was appointed the 25th guide and for 53 years has escorted many thousands of people across the dangerous sands of the stunning bay.

Grange-Over-Sands is a delightful town of higgledy piggledy streets with an impressive clock tower and an array of shops, cafes, and a couple of pubs.  It’s easy to spend a few hours meandering around the town, which is what we did before cycling a little further afield to create a circular ride back to site through Lindale.

On arrival back near site, as it was such a beautiful day, we decided to ride a further couple of miles to The Derby Arms at Witherslack for tea.  Here we sat out and enjoyed the last of the day’s sunshine.

Another great Jolly adventure and the next is under two weeks away.  Can’t wait!

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri

Charmouth, Dorset – Jurassic Coast Adventure Pt 4

Day 8 – and our final destination for June’s ‘Jolly’s Jurassic Adventure’ was a 45 minute (25.5 miles) drive further westwards along the coast to Charmouth, near the border with East Devon.    We’d booked a pitch at the Charmouth Camping & Caravanning Club site.

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/dorset/nrcharmouth/charmouth

This site is located at Monkton Wyld Farm, about 3 miles outside Charmouth itself, and is a beautiful, spacious site located down a quiet country lane away from traffic noise.  It was a good job we had our bikes on board as there isn’t much in the immediate area of this site so you do need to be able to walk a distance even to access public transport or have other means of getting out and about as most things to do are a short drive/ride away.

By now, the weather was beginning to turn and the glorious sunshine that had welcomed us on our arrival into Dorset had reduced to sporadic periods of sunshine through cloud and rain showers, some heavy.  This didn’t in any way dampen (pardon the pun) our Dorset experience, however,  and there was still adventure to be had!

During our stay here, one day we jumped on our bikes and cycled an approx 18 mile round trip to Seaton in the Axe Valley, East Devon, for the afternoon.  It was a pretty welcome into Seaton as we rode over the bridge and alongside the River Axe.   We locked the bikes up at Seaton Tramway and took a ride on one of the narrow gauge heritage trams from Seaton to Colyford and Colyton.  The track runs alongside the River Axe estuary, giving great views of bird life.  We aren’t very knowledgeable on birds but we definitely saw a buzzard on the overhead line as we passed beneath!  The tram driver was clearly very happy in his job and made it a fun and entertaining journey.

http://www.tram.co.uk/

We rode the tram up to Colyton where we disembarked for a stroll around the village.  It was pleasant walking through the winding streets.  We enjoyed a real ale as we sat outside the Gerrard Arms (freehouse) while listening to an impressive ringing of bells from St Andrew’s Church next door.  It was a very quintessentially old English village feel to the moment.  We later called in at the Kingfisher (freehouse) too before walking to catch the tram back into Seaton.

By this time it was late afternoon and we headed off on our 9 mile ride back towards site.  Unfortunately, the weather quickly changed and we found ourselves riding, often uphill, into a head wind with the rain pelting down.  It was quite a challenging ride!

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River Cottage HQ appearing through the mist on our way home

Just as we were on the verge of losing our will to live, and looking like drowned rats, we reached The Hunter’s Lodge Inn, just about a mile from site.  We were pretty knackered and had never been more ready for some pub grub and a pint.  As Suzie headed to the toilet, Bri went to book a table but was told there was no room at the Inn! 😱  There was a pub quiz on that evening and all bookings had been taken for this.  As luck would have it though, as Suzie returned and was informed, the barman took pity on her pitifully sad, disappointed, exhausted expression  … and managed to squeeze us in!  RESULT! 😃👍

We would definitely recommend that you book a table if wanting to eat here as they seem to regularly be full.

http://www.hunterslodgeaxminster.webs.com/

Another day, we decided to go fossil hunting on Charmouth beach as we had read that it is one of the best areas to do this.  After the previous day’s bike ride, and as the weather remained wet, we decided to unhook Jolly and take him into Charmouth.  Obviously with this, you are more limited with parking but this wasn’t a problem at a car park just up the road from the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre at the beach.  At the Heritage Centre, we were able to watch a video on fossil hunting and saw some very impressive fossil collections.  We weren’t successful with fossils that day but had a good couple of hours wandering the beach and searching 🙂

http://www.charmouth.org/chcc/

On our way back we were thinking of possibly having a wander around West Bay, one of the locations used for the filming of ITV’s crime drama, Broadchurch, but by this point it was quite late and we also discovered that motorhomes weren’t too welcome in the car parks we looked at which was disappointing but not entirely surprising.  I think Station Yard Car Park, West Bay allows some motorhomes, not sure how many.  We’re usually on bikes so hadn’t really experienced this difficulty before.

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A flying visit to West Bay harbour

This site is helpful re. parking in Dorset:-

http://www.motorhomeparking.co.uk/dor.htm

No worries though, we headed back to Jolly for our tea before an early night and a long journey home the next day.

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Final checks, then homeward bound 🚐

We waved goodbye to Charmouth and set off on the 265-mile return journey back up North to Lancashire, after an absolutely brilliant time on our 10-night Jolly Jurassic Adventure and got a real buzz from touring.  We just want to do more and more.  Here’s to the next one which will be June 2017, destination yet to be confirmed.  Until then …

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Wirral Country Park, Merseyside

We recently enjoyed a 2-night stay at Wirral Country Park Caravan Club Site, Thurstaston, Merseyside, over the Bank Holiday weekend.  It was our first trip for a couple of months and we were ready for it!

wirralsuzenbri

And we’re off!

wirralentrance

Arrival at site

This a very scenic site overlooking the Dee Estuary, and the weather couldn’t have been better.  It was a scorcher of a weekend, and the site was full.

http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclubapps/applications/uk-caravan-sites-and-parks/SiteDetails.aspx?csid=22016

On arrival and after finding a pitch providing us with plenty of afternoon sunshine, we set up and sat out for a few hours just enjoying the peace and quiet.  We later fired up the barbie for tea, before having a reccy around the site and heading down to the estuary to watch the sun set.  All in all it was a perfect, relaxing first day B-).

wirralpitch

Pitched up

wirralsun

wirralsunset

Wirral sunset

After a good night’s sleep on this quiet site which has very little nearby traffic, we cooked breakfast before heading out for the day on our bikes.  We joined the ‘Wirral Way’ just outside the site as it passes through the country park.  This old disused railway track is now a cycle/walk/bridle way running along the Wirral Peninsula from West Kirby to Hooton.

wirralwaymap

http://www.visitparkgate.co.uk/#/wirral-way-country-park/4564767899

We cycled some way along the track in the West Kirby direction, but veered off through Caldy and up to the Hoylake area at the northern tip of Wirral Peninsula.  We were just taking in the scenery, with a pit stop for some liquid refreshment along the way.

wirralshadow

wirralbeers

On our return, we stopped for tea at a cafe just outside the campsite, but there was very little on the menu so we decided instead to cycle into Thurstaston itself and the nearest pub to site which is The Cottage Loaf.  This pub can get busy, however, with the lovely weather most people were seated in the spacious outdoor beer garden.

wirralpub

The Cottage Loaf

https://www.oldenglishinns.co.uk/our-locations/the-cottage-loaf-thurstaston

There aren’t really a great deal of places close by to this caravan park so you need to be prepared to walk, cycle or drive; unless just relaxing is your thing in which case the setting is perfect with stunning views right on your doorstep.  We will happily return here in the future.

However, the immediate future involves our longest trip to date …. our long awaited 10-night tour of the Jurassic Coast kicking off on 5th June until 15th June.  Any recommendations, feel free to comment or please tweet us @JollyMajestic on Twitter.

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

The City of York

Our latest Jolly jaunt took us to the ancient walled city of York in North Yorkshire.  We have visited several times previously between us, and have already visited many sights and tourist attractions.  These include the impressive York Minster, Jorvik Viking Centre which is built on the site of an ancient viking settlement, and the actor-led, interactive York Dungeon.  All are worth a visit in our opinion.  Our last trip to York had been a B&B stay in freakishly hot March weather a few years ago.  We took a boat ride along the River Ouse and it had felt like the height of summer.

As you can imagine, York is steeped in history and definitely worth reading up on prior to visiting in order to get the most out of your stay.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York

http://www.visityork.org/

En route to York

Scenic route to York

This was our first visit to York in Jolly, and we stayed at the Rowntree Caravan Club Site, approx. 15 minutes walk from the centre of York.

Entract to York Rowntree Caravan Club Site

Entrance to York Rowntree Caravan Club Site

Arrival on site

Arrival on site

We had heard previously that this can be a difficult site to book onto due to its popularity.  Therefore, we booked this trip early in the year and there were very few dates left even then but we managed to squeeze a stay in.  It’s well worth regularly checking the site though, as there are often cancellations.  We spoke to a couple of caravanners on the pitch beside us and they had booked last minute in this way.

The site is ideally situated on the banks of the River Ouse, providing pleasant strolls from the entrance.  Unfortunately, this also means that the site is prone to flooding which is apparent as soon as you arrive and see the reception & facilities building high up on stilts!  There are 3 grinding wheels outside the reception which are remains of the old Rowntree chocolate factory that used to be based where the site now is.  Previous years’ flood water levels are shown on here.  Thankfully, despite considerable rain, there were no flood sirens and early morning wake-ups requiring us to flee during our stay! 🙂

To the rear of the site is a 5 minute walk into a nice area of the city which offers a supermarket & a varied choice of restaurants (eat-in or take-out).  This is very handy in bad weather and we made use of a take-out one night after a late return from a cycle ride when the rain had set in and it seemed a more appealing proposition for the evening than to venture out and traipse around town getting soaked.  Staying on site is sometimes good wind down time when you’ve been on the go.  We felt the benefit of this, enjoying our meal beneath the wind out awning before deciding to cabin up in Jolly when it became quite chilly outside.

During our stay, one day when the rain held off until evening, we decided to ‘Cycle the Solar System’, an approx. 13 mile return journey along the old East Coast main-line railway. The ride begins not far from the site entrance, and the directions/information leaflet can be picked up from reception.  This ride gave us the opportunity not only for some good exercise, but to take in a couple of detours through surrounding villages along the way, such as Naburn, Bishopthorpe and Riccall.

https://www.york.ac.uk/solar/

Map of Solar System Trail

Map of the Solar System Trail

Millennium Bridge which you pass under on the way to the cycle trail

Millennium Bridge which you pass under on the way to the cycle trail

Passing the old Terry's chocolate factory

Passing the old Terry’s chocolate factory

Part of the trail crosses Chester racecourse

Part of the trail crosses York racecourse

The Fisher of Dreams (man or woman) with bike and dog, sitting on Naburn Bridge along the cycle trail

The Fisher of Dreams (man or woman) with bike and dog, sitting on Naburn Bridge along the cycle trail

Bri on Naburn Bridge

Bri on Naburn Bridge

We only spent a little time in the centre during this stay, dining and a few drinks in a couple of the older pubs and in the Shambles area.  We also grabbed a moment to visit the infamous Dick Turpin’s grave in St George’s graveyard.

The grave of Dick Turpin (John Palmer)

Dick Turpin’s (John Palmer) headstone

Dick Turpin’s grave

The time just seems to fly on our two-night Jolly jaunts.  We took a few pics along the way:-

History all around you as you pass through York

Historic York

Clifford’s Tower, the largest remaining part of York Castle. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/cliffords-tower-york

On our first evening, we enjoyed a tasty meal at Wilde’s Wine Bar & Bistro. http://www.wildeswinebar.co.uk/

The Three Tuns Inn, a tourist destination in it's own right http://www.visityork.org/thedms.aspx?dms=3&GroupId=3&venue=1506384#

The 300 year old Three Tuns Inn, a tourist destination in it’s own right
http://www.visityork.org/thedms.aspx?dms=3&GroupId=3&venue=1506384#

History of the Three Tuns Inn

History of the Three Tuns Inn

The Golden Fleece, claiming to be the oldest and most haunted premises in York … http://www.thegoldenfleeceyork.co.uk/

History of The Golden Fleece

History of The Golden Fleece

Cosy and beautifully lit inside. We didn't see any ghosts during this visit ...

Cosy and beautifully lit inside. We didn’t see any ghosts during this visit …

The Shrine of Margaret Clitherow, a sacred site in the Shambles, a small medieval house believed to have been the home of Margaret Clitherow - a 16th Century Catholic martyr. She was knighted in 1970 by Pope Paul VI who called her

The Shrine of Margaret Clitherow, a sacred site in the Shambles, a small medieval house believed to have been the home of Margaret Clitherow – a 16th Century Catholic martyr. She was knighted in 1970 by Pope Paul VI who called her “The Pearl of York”
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/england/york-margaret-clitherow-shrine

 

We had a strange encounter on the way back to camp, while walking by a roundabout.  An old double decker bus hurtled around the bend causing an old hand bell to fly from the door and practically drop at our feet.  It happened quickly, no idea which bus company it was. so we thought it’d make a nice memento of our trip.  Let us know if it looks familiar to you, you know, if it rings a bell … (sorry!).

Our interesting souvenir handbell which we'll keep on Jolly.

Our interesting souvenir handbell which we’ll keep on Jolly.

 

Route back to camp

Route back to camp

Night walk by the River Ouse

Night walk by the River Ouse

A welcome return to Jolly after a busy day/night

A welcome return to Jolly after a busy day/night

Another fun trip.  Next time we plan to spend more time in the centre of York itself .. whenever that will be.  Watch this space!

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri